The most successful lawyers also tend to be the most respected. Here’s a list of things you can do to ensure you maintain a respectable image.
In order to build a solid reputation, it is critical for lawyers to be respected. This can be simpler said than done because not only is respect is difficult to gain, it’s incredibly easy very easy to lose.
A lawyer who is seen as respectable exhibits certain qualities in day-to-day life.
In part one of this two-part series, we’ll share the top ten behaviors common among well-respected lawyers. Follow along so you can get started commanding the respect you deserve as a successful lawyer!
1. They know when to lead, and when to follow
Good leaders typically carry an image of respect because they are transparent, ethical, aware, and collaborative. Leaders have that personality that makes you trust their opinion and direction.
In conjunction, good leaders are also good followers; they exhibit diplomacy and the ability to think critically when called upon. They also know when it’s time to step back and let someone else take the reigns.
2. They exude confidence
Peter Economy (“The Leadership Guy”) believes, “confident people are admired and inspire confidence in others”; confidence is critical if you hope to gain and maintain respect in any profession.
The confident lawyer is smooth and can navigate any situation with relative ease, even if something is difficult they know how to be graceful.
3. They stay connected in the legal community
For attorneys, especially small firm lawyers and solos, staying connected in the legal community is crucial to a thriving career. It makes a difference when other like-minded professionals see you involved and making those connections.
FindLaw looks for “significant change” in the industry and has noticed that networking has become even more important for lawyers in terms of keeping their firms afloat.
There are instances where staying connected can be difficult. You may be handling a large workload or even be ill, but your peers will notice when you have been absent. Even if you cannot physically be around, an email or a phone call helps those you’ve connected with maintain interest.
4. They are humble
Practicing humility every day is key to earning respect both personally and professionally. But for lawyers, humility plays an even larger a role in your relationships with clients, peers, and superiors.
The media can dictate the public’s perception of lawyers and creates several misconceptions, lawyers have to work hard to debunk these stereotypes. Don’t let clients think you’re arrogant or handle situations poorly. Author and retired Philadelphia trial lawyer, Janet S. Kole, elaborates on this:
“…we can’t be effective lawyers without the respect of our clients, other lawyers, judges and jurors. When that regard isn’t forthcoming—whether because you’re old, you’re female, you’re young, black, Asian, gay or just a new lawyer in the firm hierarchy—it’s up to you to do something about it. Respect is earned.”
Even saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know” can help move a bad situation forward, while maintaining and image of respect.
5. They are flexible
Peers, clients, and employees alike will be more attracted to someone with a flexible mentality.
This doesn’t mean you will do anything or let people walk all over you. What is means is that you’re willing to work with others, reach a compromise and you leave the “my way or the highway” mentality at the door.
6. They act professionally
Respected attorneys display professional conduct in every part of their career whether it’s with clients, employees, or peers. They act within ethical guidelines for a given situation and tailor their behavior to fit the moment.
7. They know their brand
Your personal brand is what identifies you and separates you from your competition. In the legal industry, there are countless attorneys all trying to do the same thing. Everyone is fighting over the same clients!
Branding expert, Jay Harrington, calls branding one of the “most overworked and overanalyzed topics in the marketplace of ideas…and one of the most misunderstood.” However, it doesn’t make it any less important.
A brand allows you to differentiate yourself and lets potential clients know if you are the solution to their legal issue. Also, your brand is always adapting, you should make gradual changes to the brand as your firm evolves.
8. They utilize relevant marketing tactics
To get the most qualified leads you’ll need efficient marketing strategies. Lawyers that that utilize the most successful and relevant marketing tactics tend to gain the most respect from both their peers and potential clients.
For example, if you’re a firm that specializes in startups where the market is typically younger, you probably should consider a social media marketing strategy. If you write a blog, you may also want to use a more youthful voice that attracts your target market.
Utilizing the right techniques to gain visibility shows you have a concerted interest in your target market, their needs, fears and wants. Your potential clients will notice this, and respect you for it.
9. They dress appropriately
Professional attire should be a given for any lawyer. If your clients and peers question your wardrobe, believe that they will question other things as well. Keeping a respectable wardrobe helps you to project an image of confidence and respect. Which helps clients believe that you are more than capable of handling their legal matter.
Understand that certain situations call for different looks, but a respectable lawyer always keeps professionalism in mind.
10. They maintain an organized workplace
Creative strategist, Royale Scuderi, says: “a relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.”
An attorney’s office is often a great indicator of their work style. Everyone wants to feel like their lawyer “has it all together” and your workspace can make that impression.
If a potential client were to come to your office and see a mess, they may wonder if your case management skills are just as disorganized as your office. Remember that appearances help seal the deal and your office is part of that equation.